7 Tips For Keeping Your Productivity Up After Hitting the Wall

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It doesn’t matter if you’re a lowly mail room clerk, the CEO, or a mid-level employee in the midst of a strategic campaign to move into upper management – everyone hits the wall at some point. In the modern workplace, that’s usually right around the mid-afternoon, a little bit after lunch, with a few hours left to go before you can hang ‘em up for the day.

It’s the time of day when you typically reach for one more cup of coffee, a Diet Coke, or start munching on candy or chips. On top of that, productivity usually hits rock bottom. Reddit replaces the spreadsheets on your monitor. You’re effectively useless.

It’s during this time that your rivals are overtaking you, and that management is noticing that you’ve lost your edge. So, how can you regain it? What can you do to avoid hitting the wall, and physically power through to maintain a high level of productivity throughout the entire workday?

The Cheat Sheet spoke with Danna Korn, the CEO of Sonic Boom Wellness, to find out. Korn is the author of several best-selling books, and her company brings helpful fitness practices into the workplace. This not only gives individuals an upper hand in remaining fresh and spry all day long, but saves employers big bucks in healthcare costs and additional production.

Mastering your energy levels is no easy feat, but Korn has built her company around finding ways to track and measure productivity, so she has a good grasp on the subject. It’s a multi-pronged strategy to avoid afternoon sluggishness, but with a few habitual fixes, you can easily snap yourself back into full-throttle while everyone else starts daydreaming away.

Here are Korn’s seven tips for getting past the afternoon slump and staying productive.

1. Get the blood moving

“Stand up,” Korn says. “We find ourselves sitting so much of the time … and having a standing desk makes a huge difference.”

Since many workers, especially in offices, are on their butts all day, we get used to being in a shut-down state. That’ll make us tired, and our brains become disengaged from what’s going on around us. Get the blood pumping, and get your metabolism going. There’s an energizing effect.

“Take a 10 or 15-minute break to jog around, or just walk quickly – just get up,” she said.

2. Get your mind off work

Your mind becomes fatigued, just as your body does. What you need to do is put some distance between what’s going on in your head, and your work. That means zoning out for a bit – maybe taking a short nap, going outside and getting some fresh air, or even meditating.

“Getting your mind off of work is so important – tuning into nature, or into a friend, grab a colleague and go for a walk,” Korn said. “That’s a stress-reducer, and it’ll get your energy levels back up.”

3. Eat breakfast

“Everybody should eat breakfast – that’s another key. Don’t skip breakfast,” Korn said.

When we eat breakfast, we are setting the tone for the whole day. Your body has been fasting all night, and needs resources to get kickstarted. By avoiding breakfast, we’re depriving it of calories for fuel, and of other nutrients necessarily to get our metabolism in shape for the rest of the day.

Oh, and skip the calorie-heavy crap so many people like to eat. That includes donuts, muffins, pancakes, etc. Stick to lean proteins, like egg whites or a Greek yogurt.

4. Avoid caffeine…

You’re going to be tempted to reach for a coffee, tea, or soda as you start to feel your energy levels falling. Don’t do it. Not only can caffeine screw up your sleep schedule and cycles (as we’ve discussed with sleep experts), but beverages like sodas will mess up our blood sugar levels. Those levels are imperative to our energy levels, but they can become off-kilter when introducing creams and sugars into the mix.

“The worst thing you can do is to have a Red Bull at three o’clock in the afternoon,” Korn said.

5. …But do hydrate

“The majority of people walking the planet right now are chronically dehydrated,” Korn said. “That’s going to cause them to feel fatigued, and have headaches, and they’re not going to be as sharp.”

The solution? Drink water. A lot of it. Steer clear of soft drinks and things with caffeine, and stick with the clear, calorie-free goodness that is water.

6. Set small goals

Most days, you might feel the energy levels slipping. And you have an idea of what you should do – go outside, walk around, have a glass of water, etc. But you don’t. You reach for a Coke and a bag of chips, and start browsing Facebook. How can you break that habit? How can you get yourself to do what you need to do, rather than meander off into sluggishness?

It takes work, and discipline. To get there, you’ll need to start small. Korn says to set small goals – perhaps avoid salty snacks, or just do a few jumping jacks every day – which will eventually cascade into healthier habits.

7. Prioritize for the morning

You know you’re bound to hit the wall in the afternoon, so plan to get work done in the morning. Set your schedule so that you’re knocking your priorities off of your list during the earlier hours, before the mid-afternoon slump sets in. Of course, sometimes there isn’t much you can do, as your schedule may be out of your control. But if you can, plan to get things done within the first several hours of waking up.

“Save the easier, organizational stuff for the afternoon,” Korn said.

For more information and tips related to productivity head over to Sonic Boom Wellness.

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